“I can get more sleep when I die.” I don’t know how often I heard that comment or a comment like that when I was in college. Young adults often think they can stay out late and be productive at school or at work the next morning. Sleep, too many young adults think, is a waste of time.
Sleep, though, is very important. The right amount of sleep in even more important. Sleeping too little or too much increases your risk of early death. The WebMD article “Not Enough Sleep: 7 Serious Health Risks” reported that the link between lack of sleep and early death is stronger for men than women, “especially” men with sleep apnea. Similarly, The Huffington Post article “8 Health Risks Of Sleeping Too Much” reported that “sleeping more than eight hours a night was associated with a 1.3-times greater risk of death among the 1,382,999 various study participants.
The Amount of Sleep You Need
Sleeping too little or too much can also increase your risk of many other health problems. The seven serious health risks of too little sleep include obesity, heart disease, diabetes, headaches, depression, and accidents. The eight health risks of sleeping too much include depression, thinking problems, infertility, diabetes, weight gain, and heart problems.
So how many hours of sleep do you need per night? The National Sleep Foundation’s “Recommended Sleep” chart recommends that adults from the ages of 18 to 64 sleep seven to nine hours per night. For young adults between the ages of 18 to 25, six hours per night or 10 to 11 hours per night “may be appropriate.” For adults between the ages of 26 to 64, six or 10 hours per night “may be appropriate.” Other timeframes are “not recommended.”
Do you have children? Here are the National Sleep Foundation’s recommendation for the right amount of sleep for them:
- Newborns from zero to three months: 14 to 17 hours per night.
- Infants from four to 11 months: 12 to 15 hours per night.
- Toddlers from one to two years old: 11 to 14 hours per night.
- Preschoolers from three to five years old: 10 to 13 hours per night.
- Six- to 13-year-olds: 9 to 11 hours per night.
- Teens ages 14 to 17: 8 to 10 hours per night.
Older adults, people who are at least 65 years old, should sleep seven to eight hours per night, slightly less than non-seniors. The National Sleep Foundation says it “may be appropriate” for seniors to sleep as little as five hours per night and as much as nine hours per night.
In its “How Many Hours of Sleep Do You Need?” report, the National Sleep Foundation recommends going to bed earlier in “15-minute increments” if you’re not getting enough sleep. In other words, if you’re sleeping two fewer hours than you should, you should keep adjusting your bedtime until you get the right amount of sleep. If you’re sleeping too much, the National Sleep Foundation recommends going to bed later in 15-minute increments until you’re sleeping well.
Of course, every individual is different for the amount of sleep they need. You should fall asleep 15 to 20 minutes after you go to bed. If it takes longer, you might be sleeping too much — or you might be eating too late or have anxiety problems. If you fall asleep right away, you might not be getting enough sleep.